Graphite is a naturally occurring crystalline form of the element carbon (C) and is one of the oldest elements known to humans. Graphite features carbon atoms arranged in a hexagonal structure. Naturally occurring graphite is formed in the earth’s crust and upper mantle from carbon subjected to at least 75,000 pounds per square inch of pressure and temperatures in the range of 750 degrees C.
Uses of Graphite
When we think of graphite, we naturally think of its use in pencils. But graphite is highly sought after for a variety of other uses, primarily industrial in nature, owing its ability to conduct electricity while tolerating extreme heat.
Due to its molecular structure graphite can be used as a lubricant. Graphite is used as a refractory and is vital to the design of foundries. When combined with iron, graphite is used to manufacture steel. Graphite is used extensively in nuclear power generation, especially in reactor cores, due to its ability to withstand extremely high temperatures.
But these days, graphite’s most significant use is as the raw material used to manufacture anodes in Lithium-ion batteries, which enjoy widespread use in electronic devices, including EVs.
In fact, in a typical Li-ion battery the amount of graphite required can be 10 to 20 times greater than the amount of lithium required.
In 2021 the global graphite market accounted for approximately 2.7 million metric tons, and some analysts anticipate a CAGR of more than 5% between 2022 and 2027. In 2022 the global graphite market is valued at $14.3 billion USD and is expected to reach $21.6 billion USD by 2027.
Types of Graphite
Several different kinds of graphite are recognized, including ‘lump’ or ‘vein’ graphite which is believed to be of hydrothermal origin. Vein graphite, which is synonymous with ‘Ceylon’ or ‘Sri Lankan’ graphite, is a true vein mineral as opposed to a seam mineral (‘amorphous graphite’) or a mineral that is disseminated throughout the ore rock (as in ‘flake graphite’).
Vein graphite enjoys the highest level of purity (vein graphite deposits are typically above 90 percent pure with some vein graphite reaching 99.5% graphitic carbon) and is also the least prevalent type of graphite, and at present the only commercially successful deposits are located in Sri Lanka.
Now Zimtu Capital’s equity holding Gratomic Inc. hopes to change that.
Gratomic (TSXV:GRAT) intends to refurbish the historic, past-producing Aukam graphite mine located in southern Namibia’s Karas region. The Aukam property covers a historical vein graphite mine that consists of five adits and an open pit. Prior resource extraction at Aukam occurred between 1940 and 1956, and then again between 1964 until 1974, when mining last occurred.
Data obtained over the past 8 years of the project by GRAT has led to a better understanding of the quality and distribution of the graphite mineralization at Aukam, and exploration has demonstrated significant potential for expansion of the mineralization outside the old workings.
For more information about Gratomic Inc. please visit their website.